2 large crown-of-thorns starfish sit on a big round flat coral

Crown-of-thorns starfish

New thinking about a spiky problem

Crown-of-thorns starfish are a major cause of hard coral loss on the Great Barrier Reef. The coral-eating starfish is native to the Indo-Pacific region; however, they can occur in plague proportions, consuming vast swathes of hard coral during outbreaks.

Crown-of-thorns starfish are one of several pressures facing the Reef. Pressures from climate change are increasing, and the time between reef disturbances is becoming shorter, leaving less time for coral communities to recover. There is an urgency to manage pressures amenable to local or regional management, for example the control of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks.

AIMS takes a whole-of-system approach to our research on crowns-of-thorns starfish outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef. Our science assists Reef managers with data to better understand the outbreaks, identify the causes and develop innovative tools to help control their numbers.